there’s not really a good reason for why i don’t read some books

September 28, 2012

That was an AMAZING sunset last night! I’m so glad my house faces west. I looked out the window and saw the orange sky and actually said “wow” out loud to myself. It was kind of stunning and for a half hour or so I was in love with fall.

My sleep continues to suck. I cannot get my mind to settle down . . . songs, poems, house stuff, grocery list, people, etc. I can hear RU telling me to meditate. I actually believe she is right and it would probably help me, but in short, I just won’t do it and I am unwilling to explore my resistance to it, too. I can be a very frustrating person to engage with. I don’t know if it’s any consolation to other folks, but also I frustrate my own self. Also, on a slightly related thread, I’ve been wondering if a person can be some hybrid of a hedonist and a Buddhist and a nice midwestern guy. That actually might be how I start explaining myself, although this is only an idea I just now came up with.

The other day I was talking with my writing group members about what each of us are reading and AM reported she’s joined up with a couple other folks who read difficult books together and with them that she’s currently reading Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native. Actually, AM might have said she was slogging through some parts. Still. I would love to be the kind of person who did this, because I think it would make me feel like a bad ass reader and I would enjoy that. I even had a conversation with my English prof friend this summer about starting a difficult book club, but it never got past the conversation part. So even though I’m reluctant to admit it, so far I don’t appear to be the kind of person who reads difficult books.

My dirty secret and the one I’m even more reluctant to admit, is how resistant I am to reading books that people I know recommend to me. It makes no sense, since many of my friends are prodigious readers and have tastes that are similar to mine, and if not similar at least, interesting to me. When RU and I were first dating and we were in the “I like soup, you like soup and we can talk and not talk for hours” phase, I read a couple of her recommendations right away, like these Jane Smiley novellas, but after that, RU recommended Lonesome Dove to me for a couple years, much to her chagrin, before I finally picked it up and read it. I ended up loving that book. I love it so much so that I recommend the book to everyone I know, because of course I like to  make recommendations. Maybe or maybe not, that makes me a little bit of blowhard; either way its another annoying and/or frustrating quirk.

What came up in my conversation the other day about reading, was that my dad once gave me Melville’s Billy Budd and said something like “this explains me better than anything else” or “if you wanna know me, read this book.” And . . . I never read it. As I said all of this this out loud to my writing group members, I knew it sounded kind of outrageous, because for all intense purposes, I grew up estranged from my dad’s life, and I had been desperate for so long to know him better. And then he give me this key and in not reading the book, you could characterize my response to his giving me the key  as “I don’t care about your stupid key.” In my own defense, I have to say, I just wanted to hang out with my dad and meet some of his friends or go with him to his bar, where they had his picture on the wall, or go with him to the church he went to the last couple years of his life. But still I’ve never read Billy Budd. My dad is dead and Billy Budd is sitting on the shelf of my bedside table.

Hmm . . . that may have sounded darker than I feel. I don’t feel dark right now. I feel distracted and buzzy and a little tired and happy to see the sunshine and happy that it’s Friday and grateful I had some time to cook last night.


4 responses to “there’s not really a good reason for why i don’t read some books”

  1. Jim L says:

    Love this!

  2. proteanme says:

    Thanks, Jim!

  3. A.M. O'Malley says:

    Liz! You neglected to mention that when you told me the story of your dad and Billy Budd I laughed so hard that I almost wet myself…ah irony, it never ceases to amaze me.

    Also…it’s technically not “for all intense purposes” but “for all intents and purposes.” however, I think I like your spin on it better. XO

  4. A.M. O'Malley says:

    amaze=amuse 🙂

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